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  • Obama Wants to Tax Us by the Mile

    Remember that Beatles song about the taxman? “If you drive a car, I’ll tax the street.” Well, that’s just about what the Transportation Secretary has proposed.

    Bad ideas never die in Washington. They don’t even fade away. As proof, see the third effort in the last two years by the Obama Administration and members of Congress to tax us on every mile we drive. A larger issue is that the Administration ignores the core problem: using the federal highway program for wasteful spending projects.

    The so-called vehicle miles tax (VMT) was first proposed by Obama’s Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood back in February of 2009.

    A few months later, then-Chairman of the House Transportation Committee, James Oberstar (D–MN), backed the idea, too.

    What we wrote about this idea is as valid today as it was then:

    The VMT would fund transportation projects and increase conservation by increasing the cost of driving. It is unnecessary, however, because the gas tax already accomplishes these tasks—and is much cheaper to administer. A VMT would be expensive to implement because every car would need to be fitted with a device that both records miles driven and transmits the information to a government database. This complicated system would cost millions and raise concerns of big brother watching our every movement.

    Americans don’t like paying the gas tax, but they are sure to be even more unhappy having to deal with the administrative nightmare the VMT promises. Secretary LaHood would be better served coming up with a plan returning responsibility for transportation funding to the states where it rightly belongs.

    Of course, this is completely counter to the Administration’s push to get people in more fuel-efficient vehicles. A hybrid vehicle driving 20 miles would be taxed the same as an SUV driving 20 miles. The questions then become: Is a driver’s impact on highway infrastructure proportional to miles driven? Is vehicle weight a more appropriate measure? Should the government charge bicycles as well? Would this actually replace the federal and state gas taxes, or would it become an unnecessary additional revenue source for the government to fund transportation boondoggles such as Obama’s rejected high-speed rail and livability programs?

    The priority for the Administration should be to fix the federal highway program. As Heritage Senior Research Fellow Ron Utt points out, motorists and truckers only get back about 65 percent on their user fees and taxes, with the rest being diverted to a growing collection of pet projects.

    One clear example is the Livability Communities Demonstration Grant Program, in which Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood defines livability as:

    …being able to take your kids to school, go to work, see a doctor, drop by the grocery or post office, go out to dinner and a movie, and play with your kids in a park, all without having to get in your car.

    In other words, how can we use taxpayer dollars to get more people into buses, trolleys and trains? Eliminating wasteful spending from the federal highway program should be the Administration’s first priority, rather than finding different ways to tax Americans.

    One wonders what’s next on the LaHood/Obama agenda. Taxing our feet?

    Co-Authored by Curtis DuBay

    Posted in Energy [slideshow_deploy]

    22 Responses to Obama Wants to Tax Us by the Mile

    1. surfcitysocal says:

      Big Brother alert!!! How is a device to record your mileage (and ostensibly penalize you if some government hoo-hah decides you drive too much) any different from the device they installed on our electrical meter to monitor our usage? If alarm bells aren't ringing and signaling the end of our freedoms for the sake of the "earth-ists", nothing will. Goodbye, freedom. Hello, Gulag Amerika.

    2. Mary, Indiana says:

      Unbelievable. How in the WORLD are those who live in the rural areas supposed to get to these wonderful places by mass transport if mass transport doesn't even service rural areas???? Once again Beltway bureaucrats are so out of touch with the real world. Those who can least afford it will be paying the higher taxes. Nothing ever changes.

    3. Barbara, PA says:

      In case you aren't aware, this is all part of Agenda 21. Agenda 21 and the Bill of Rights are antithetical, but no one will talk about that.

    4. Pingback: Obama wants to tax us by the mile « OBX Tea Party News

    5. Paul Griffin, Dalton says:

      Can you imagine the intrusion necessary to glean such information?

      Can you imagine the exceptions and loopholes and exemptions?

      Can you imagine the battles in the Congress over who and/or what is exempt?

      Can you imagine the added layer(s) of bureaucracy needed for assessing and collecting said proposed tax?

      Can you imagine people taking this idea glibly?

      Can you imagine people who will vote for Obama despite such ill-conceived plans?

    6. Bobbie says:

      It's funny how the President supports high mileage, efficient run cars and then turns around to charge per mile!? Can you imagine the traffic jams getting to the train depot and the limited parking at the train depot? Get the mandates and regulations OFF OUR BACKS and STOP SPENDING!! PLEASE!!! PUT YOUR FOOT DOWN!!!!

    7. George Colgrove VA says:

      So I went out and bought my Ford Focus specifically because I wanted to save on gas. I did not want all the electric hybrid stuff. I just wanted a simple car with the best gas mileage I could get (up to 40mpg!) I did my part. Now the federal workforce (mind you this is where the predecisional meetings the feds do not want you to know about and the background research took place that led to the final concept) wants to thank me by imposing a tax on each mile I drive; require me to buy and pay to have a monitor in my car; then agree to hook up my checkbook to a federal agency so they can grab more money from me. They are saying that each gas station will be required to pay to install these tax collection boxes.

      This government is operating on only 44% capital. It cannot afford to supplement the installation of this infrastructure and it will take decades for the slow federal workforce to work out the kinks. Yet we will be going deeper in debt just to pay for the devices for the poor to install their own mileage tax device an perhaps those major gas corporation that properly paid their shake-down fee to Obama.

      Just say no! This will turn out to be one more boondoggle that will employ even more needless overpaid federal workers in yet one more agency that will need to be created. We will be subjected to yet one more crime for those of us who do not have the device installed yet.

      Sorry – no more! For what little net revenue this will bring in, let us rather focus on doing corresponding cuts to the annual budget! If this is a means to grab more money from already suffering taxpayers for highway projects, then cut the size of the federal DOT to make up the difference. Why in the heck do we need tens of thousands of overpaid federal workers working in lush offices to redistribute transportation dollars?

      This proposal should be DOA when it reached the House of Representatives. We do not need more taxes and moreover we do not need more creative ways to tax. We need to cut. This is coming down to a battle of do we save DC or do we save the country. Right now DC is winning!

    8. MJF, CT says:

      Time to study the tax revolts of early America because it's becoming time that We the People rise against these Washington Bureaucrats.

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    10. Jax Tico says:

      This is the Stamp Tax of old. This is the breaking point. This tax is what Americans will not stand for. This will have dire ramifications for our entire nation. This is the kind of tax that will cause the kind of event this president has been trying two years to create; Americans rising up in the streets demanding the government remove their boot from our necks. This will be the catalyst for this Marxist to clamp down on us "for our own good." The kind of tax will create the unrest that is tailor made for a full clamp down and suspension of elections.

      And you know, the Marxist-in-chief will have the support of is reliable pet RINO's:

      SCOTT BROWN

      LISA MURKOWSKI

      LINDSEY GRAHAM

      JOHN McCAIN

      JOHNNY ISAKSON

      MARK KIRK

      JOHN THUNE

      OLYMPIA SNOWE

      SUSAN COLLINS

      LAMAR ALEXANDER

      SAXBY CHAMBLISS

      If they try to implement this tax, we should all drive to DC, all 300 million of us, and remove all the bureaucrats and politicians from our buildings and start over.

      Our Declaration of Independence commands us thus:

      "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created

      equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain

      unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the

      pursuit of Happiness. –That to secure these rights, Governments are

      instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of

      the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes

      destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to

      abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on

      such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them

      shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

      Pay heed DC. We The People are not playing any more!

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    12. Stirling, Pennsylvan says:

      "Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness" by Prof. Cass R. Sunstein (your Obama Regulatory Czar)… This is what the progressives think they need to do in order to Achive their "Green America.." which includes the bone head ideas like taxing per mile, and others which are being floated by this administration.

    13. jojos papa south dak says:

      why not make president and congress pay for their own transportation cost and no more secrect service and armor cars see how much money we could save this country also do away with police escorts and he would under stand what traffic is really about.

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    15. Mark in NH says:

      QUICK THOUGHTS: (1) Electric Vehicles, since new should be mandated to pay a per mile tax since these vehicles are newer and can more easily absorb the cost of systems (as % of purchase price) to track and report miles. This would allow those few folks who have some classic VW Beetles or Muscle cars to keep them more "original". (2) Based on arugments for per mile tax, one *part* of our current problem is that the gas tax is largley a per gallon tax, more conservation equals less revenue for infrastructure maintenance. If all taxes were percentage at least the gas tax would have a *CHANCE* to keep up with road repair needs. (3) Maybe tax tires… we all use them and it is difficelt to use a motorcycle tire on a 1 Ton pickup with a plow on it.

    16. Anna, MD says:

      Why don't we first fire all the shovel leaners that one sees on every highway project? You know, the 4 guys all standing around, leaning on shovels, watching one guy shovel in a ditch? There, I just cut 4/5ths of the DOT's budget!

      One more tax and we're out on the street. We just can't take it anymore. We haven't been able to find work for over 2 years and we're out of money now. (Along w/ 2/3rds of America, not trying to claim I'm more stressed than anyone else.) When the ppl have nothing left to lose, let tyrants shake in their shoelaces.

    17. Green2LAX says:

      The premise is that vehicles not solely powered by gasoline i.e. alt. Fuel or hybrid will use more of the highways due to increased mpg, and therefore wouldn't pay as much Use Tax at the pump. As mpg increases, Use Tax revenues will decrease. The projects themselves ought not be boon doggles.

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    19. Vince - MI says:

      Here we go again. The trucking industry has been taxed over the years on mileage by many states (in addition to fuel taxes). The tax structure is almost uniform in that there are only a few states taxing on a ton-mile model, Oregon and New Mexico are good examples. The federal government currently uses IRS form 2290 to tax trucks a "heavy use tax" that amounts to $550.00 annually/truck, this amounts to $1,421,875,950.00, anyone who is unable to prove payment cannot purchase vehicle licensing from their state and in turn cannot purchase the IFTA prorates to operate outside their home state. The federal tax on fuel at the pump on diesel is 24.4 cents/gallon (last I looked) with 2.86 cents going to mass transit. If you calculate the total tax from fuel alone with a base MPG of 6 using 2008 numbers of 49,973,000,000 miles driven by commercial vehicles (www.fhwa.dot.gov) you get $2,032,235,333.00. If we calculate the tax derived from cars we can use a 20MPG base 18.4 cents federal tax and 135,091,000,000 miles we can add another $124,837,200.00. So, not including motorcycles and other light vehicles, the federal government put $3,578,948,483 into the highway trust fund in 2008. Where have these funds gone? Sadly, my first thought is the total lack of accountability or metrics related to the US government.When you look at the numbers, one must question where a 6 cpm tax on cars would generate sufficient revenue to cure the illness. When you consider that federal expenditures for were $478.1B in 1978 and $2.5379T in 2008 I think the bigger issue is runaway spending…much like the Valley Girl with her Daddy's Amex spending a day at The Galleria. Did I mention that of the 18.4 cents you pay in gas taxes for the highway trust fund, 4.1 cents goes to "The General Fund" for congress to spend on what pork barrel projects they choose? It's terrific to get mad over another tax as so many are doing here, but get the numbers, do your homework, produce and argument based on facts! You shold never expect to fight and win any battle for your tax dollars without facts.

    20. Bobbie says:

      good one, jojos papa! Eliminate all government amenities! That would reduce expense expediently. Private sector pays all their living expenses. why does any ONE government worker, NOT?

    21. Richard says:

      nice one, indeed! Green2LAX, I was just going to say the same thing:) It's all about fuel type… the roads are the same after all.

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